Space & Innovation

Paleolithic Hunter-Gatherers Loved Oatmeal Too

Debris found on an ancient grindstone turns out to be oatmeal.

Some like it hot, some like it cold, and it looks like they probably liked it about 32,000 years ago.

An ancient grinding stone found in the Grotta Paglicci, Apulia, in southern Italy, has hit the news after scientists discovered that some of the debris on the stone turns out to be none other than oatmeal. The stone harkens back to the Gravettian era, a late Paleolithic culture, known for its tool making. It was recovered in the 1950s, but it wasn't until recently that Marta Mariotti Lippi and team at the University of Florence in Italy studied the debris and found the oat fragments.

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The team determined that the Gravettian people heated the grains before grinding them with the stone in order to preserve and prep them for processing. The resulting powder was then made into bread and oatmeal.

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The Grotta Paglicci, Apulia served as home to ancient hunter-gatherer cultures anywhere from 34,000-32,000 years ago, and has produced artifacts that include mural paintings with animals and etchings on bones. As for the stone, Lippi says the team intends to continue studying the debris to find out what else prehistoric cultures dined on.

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Matt Pope, an archaeologist with University College London, told Herald Scotland, "There is a relationship there to be explored between diet, experimentation with processing plant food and cultural sophistication. We've had evidence of the processing of roots and cattails, but here we've got a grain, and a grain that we're very familiar with."

Two 17,000-year-old skeletons have been brought to life in silicone models of the prehistoric humans at a new exhibit in Bordeaux, France. Artist Elisabeth Daynès created "Chancelade Man" and the "Woman of the Pataud Shelter" based on remains found in France's Dordogne region.

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Daynès, a former prosthetic makeup artist turned sculptor and paleo-artist, spent seven years studying and creating models of the prehistoric humans. She describes her work saying, "I sculpt hypotheses."

The skeleton of the the approximately 60-year-old, blue-eyed "Chancelade Man" stands 6'2" tall. Chancelade Man's remains were discovered in 1888 in a rock shelter at Chancelade, southwestern France.

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The 17,000-year-old skeleton was found below the floor of a shelter in a curled posture -- a position that paleontologists say suggests he had been buried.

Daynès' likenesses are obtained by the computer modelling of multiple data points across the skull. Daynès then creates a silicone reconstruction of what the person could have looked like.

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Also, in the exhibit is Daynès' interpretation of a female prehistoric human based on the skeleton of a woman's remains also found in the Dordogne region.

The silicone model shows a woman, who is thought to have died aged 20 with brown eyes and a round face. "The most important aspect of my sculptures, is the look in the eyes," says Daynès. The

exhibition, called "Chairs de Origines,"

or "The Origins of Flesh" will be on display at a gallery in Bordeaux until December 5.